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Lessons from a team of young winners

I learnt some valuable lessons on Strategic Foresight as I reflected on this inspiring report entitled “Skill, not luck, powers teens to RoboCup victory” (Straits Times, 7 Aug), of how the Singapore youth team defended their Robocup world championships in Nagoya, Japan. They also swept two other prizes for the first time. They had only three years of experience in programming and no formal training. One of them has spent a few hours every week reading self-help books and poring over online forums to perfect the algorithm of his team’s robot, for the past 6 months. All three students are considering applying for computer science courses when they go to university in the future.

Lesson 1: Don’t depend on luck for your future, depend on your skill.

The team credited their victory to skill, not luck. In fact, skill, not luck, is also needed to orientate ourselves to the future. Most people feel that there is only one future, and what is predetermined is destined to happened. This view elevate the status of luck: if you are lucky, good things will happen to you; otherwise, too bad. Strategic Foresight practitioner believe there are many alternative plausible futures, among which you choose your desired preferred future, to which you will need skill to achieve. We can create our future, to a certain extent, through hardwork and skill.

Which view is more in line with the Bible? Does God predetermine one personal future specifically for every believer, so that every step of your life you are to be in His PERFECT blueprint? Or does He has a broad masterplan for humanity with life principles, allowing enough space (and choices) for you to exercise the skill of wisdom and discernment to decide? Garry Friesen’s book, Decision Making and the Will of God, explores this idea further. Nonetheless, skill is more tangible, within one’s responsibility and control, and has capacity to be developed; luck is abstract and intangible, beyond one’s domain of influence, and cannot be developed. It would be wiser to invest in skill than depend on luck for the future.

Lesson 2: Drive is everything

The article reported that the teens only had three years of experience in programming and no formal training. But they had one key winning quality that set them apart: drive! Drive urge them to perfect their skill. Drive compels them to be self-directed learners. Drive gives them direction to make plans to study in desired college and university. Do you have drive in your life? What are you passionate about? What keeps you enegerized, motivated and up at night, and never gets tired doing it over and over again? Are we nurturing drive in others, or killing it with obligations? Do we spend more time talking about what tasks need to be done, or how the task fits into the high calling? To paraphrase the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” What is the future that you aspire? Strategic futures aims to build drive and vision by helping us think through all the alternative futures and what we want to make of it. The greater your drive, the more it will become your reality. Drive is everything, put your faith in action.

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